Channel 4 commissions The Fear Clinic from Wonderhood Studios

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Channel 4 has commissioned Wonderhood Studios to produce a new six-part fixed-rig documentary format in which people with debilitating phobias attend a special clinic in Amsterdam over 48 hours, where they will undergo a new, cutting-edge psychological treatment and face their worst fears.

In the UK alone, an estimated 10 million people suffer with a phobia. From emetophobia (a chronic fear of vomit) to arachnophobia (a fear of spiders), musophobia (a fear of mice), ranidophobia (a fear of frogs) and even globophobia (a severe phobia of balloons).

Often, deep-rooted in past experiences or traumas, these phobias can cause shame, stigma and even ridicule as people suffer in silence, sometimes with wide-ranging, negative impacts on their daily lives.

The Fear Clinic

Filmed on fixed-rig cameras, in each episode of The Fear Clinic (6×60’, w/t), three British phobia sufferers check into the state-of-the-art clinic in Amsterdam, where a renowned Dutch scientist and her team of psychologists will treat their phobias.

Dr. Merel Kindt (Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Amsterdam) has developed a radical treatment method based on 20 years of scientific research.

The Memrec treatment, which has a success rate of 83%, is built on ground-breaking insights into neuroscience. At the core of the treatment the patient is coached to confront their fear by approaching, rather than avoiding it and running away.

This new experience creates an opportunity to rewire how the fear is stored in the brain aided by the administration of a single dose of a beta-blocker.

Using these techniques based on the expanding science of memory re-consolidation, Dr. Kindt and her team will attempt – over the course of an intense 48 hours – to free patients from the prison of their phobia.

The treatment requires immense courage and determination from the patient as they face their worst fear imaginable. But if they do manage to face their fear, it could change their life forever.

Sam Anstiss Chief Creative Officer of Wonderhood Studios, said: “Many of us suffer from phobias or know someone who does and who would like to be free from their fears.

“The Fear Clinic (w/t) will get under the skin of Britain’s most debilitating and misunderstood phobias, revealing how they arise and become embedded in our psyche, while attempting to free people from their fears in this eye-opening series full of high drama, shocking challenges and personal transformations.”

Dr. Merel Kindt, Founder of Kindt Clinics and Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Amsterdam, said: “Initially, it was quite unsettling to have numerous cameras in our clinic recording every step of our work.

“However, I view this as a collective endeavour for mental health education, to show the public what it means to live with debilitating fear. I am deeply grateful to the patients who bravely open up and share their most vulnerable moments.

“Together we aim to convey that it is entirely possible to break free from a life of shame and avoidance. My aspiration is that this series encourages people to seek treatment.”

Tom Garton, Director of Development and Executive Producer, said: “Phobias are by definition irrational and can seem ridiculous to anyone who doesn’t have one. Having a phobia can therefore feel embarrassing and isolating – and some people live for decades imprisoned by their fear.

“So, to have a highly effective treatment that only takes 48 hours is game-changing. Against the backdrop of a global mental health crisis, this series shows an uplifting alternative to all those suffering alone, without hope.”

Anna Miralis, Senior Commissioning Editor, Documentaries, Channel 4, said: “This remarkable series will offer up hope to some extremely brave individuals who are willing to face their ultimate phobia.

“I am sure it will be a rollercoaster of emotion as we watch them follow this revolutionary treatment by a team of highly respected clinical professionals.  It will be thrilling to see them be potentially free of something that may have debilitated them for most of their lives.”